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User groups pick up where associations drop the ball.

It is ironic that present-day user groups have taken over what the telecomm associations originally were established to do. That is, provide a shield to protect their members against the "slings and arrows" thrown at them, by vendors and suppliers, and act as a forum for user-vendor concerns.

The list of user groups is a long and proud one. There are the National Centrex Users Group (NCUG NCUG National Centrex Users' Group ), International SL-I Users Association (ISLUA), National Rolm Users Group (NRUG), National Association of Mitel Users Group (NAMUG), NEAX NEAX Nippon Electric Automated Exchange  2400 IMS (1) See IP Multimedia Subsystem.

(2) (Information Management System) An early IBM hierarchical DBMS for IBM mainframes. IMS was widely implemented throughout the 1970s under MVS and continues to be used under z/OS.
 Users and PictureTel Users Group (PUG), to name just a few. Almost every company with a sizable installed base has established or supports a users group. Often the group is used as a sounding board for new products or services and provides the user with a forum to offer constructive criticism.

The heart of the association vs. user-group matter is that the telecomm associations have not responded to the needs of their members and, as a result, there has been a proliferation of new users groups. The Energy Telecommunications and Electrical Association (ENTELEC ENTELEC Energy Telecommunications and Electrical Association ) was founded as the first and oldest of the telecomm associations. It was followed by the ICA Ica (ē`kä), city (1993 pop. 108,724), capital of Ica dept., SW Peru, on the Pan-American Highway. It is a commercial center for the cotton, wool, and wine produced in the region. There are several summer resorts nearby. , CMA CMA - Concert Multithread Architecture from DEC. , CICA CICA Competition In Contracting Act of 1984 (USA)
CICA Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants
CICA Competition In Contracting Act
CICA Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (UK) 
 and others. Years ago, such groups were the only ones around to do battle with the only supplier on the block: the Bell System. All has changed.

Although there have been attempts by some of the telecomm associations over the years to respond to the special needs of their memberships, it usually was after the fact. So users, groups were formed ... many of them even founded and led by disgruntled dis·grun·tle  
tr.v. dis·grun·tled, dis·grun·tling, dis·grun·tles
To make discontented.

[dis- + gruntle, to grumble (from Middle English gruntelen; see
 members of the telecomm association community itself.

Some telecomm associations included users groups as part of their, annual conference programs. The ICA-Centrex Users alliance is an example. Other telecomm associations provided free meeting space to users groups during their annual conferences.

My, have times changed. Today some user groups put on an annual conference and exposition which is larger and better attended than many of those hosted by telecomm associations. The user group leadership is strong and the membership is loyal., Volunteerism rivals even the most successful telecomm associations, while several users groups have paid staff and executive directors.

The issue at hand is what to do about the situation facing the association community. There is competition for vendor/supplier attendance and sponsorship at shows. There is competition for a membership, leadership, programming, and scheduling between telecomm associations and users groups.

Quite frankly, something's got to give Something's Got to Give is one of the most notorious unfinished films in Hollywood history. The light bedroom comedy, a remake of My Favorite Wife, was produced in 1962 by a then-floundering 20th Century Fox. . Attendance and revenues any way down at association shows.

Telecomm associations must get, back to the original roots of why they were founded. There must be a lot of pruning and weeding to get rid of surplus or irrelevant activities. There should be some grafting of association and user group activities where there are shared interests. However, it will not and can not happen overnight since both the telecomm associations and the users groups are too rooted in their own turf.

I suggest starting a dialog with both groups similar to that which took place 10 years ago when the individual telecomm associations realized the need to start a liaison among themselves. This led to the formation of TAC 1. TAC - Translator Assembler-Compiler. For Philco 2000.
2. TAC - Terminal Access Controller.
. Perhaps users groups could start the process and try to coordinate conference schedules as TAC did in the beginning.

I hope this will lead to a dialogue with TAC where there would be industry-wide coordination of events, conferences and activities.

Give me a call at 805-481-8016 if you have any ideas on the topic.
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Title Annotation:telecommunications associations
Author:Underwood, Roger
Publication:Communications News
Date:Oct 1, 1995
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